A presentation by Rabbi Elana Friedman, Campus Rabbi for Jewish Life at Duke on January 31, 2016.
For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation and conversation.
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A Taste of the TalmudPresented by Rabbi Elana Friedman
Campus Rabbi for Jewish Life at Duke University
Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 2a
Translation from Back to the Sources by Barry Holtz
Mishnah Berakhot 1:1
"From what time [may people] recite the evening shema? From the hour that the priests come in to eat of their Heave-offering, until the end of the first watch; [these are] R. Eliezer's words, but the sages say, Until midnight. R. Gamaliel says, Until the first light of dawn ...."
Gemara Berakhot 2:2
"Where is the Tanna [scholar of the mishnaic times, the first and second centuries] standing that he teaches 'From when,' and further why is it that he starts with the evening? Let him start with the morning! The Tanna 'stands' on scripture, as it is written, 'When you lie down and when you rise up' (Deuteronomy 6.7), and he teaches thus: When is the time of the Shema-recitation of lying down? From the time that the priests come in to eat of their Heave-offering.
And if you like I can say he learns [this] from [the story of] the creation of the world, as it is written, 'And it was evening, and it was morning, one day' (Genesis 1.5)."
"If so, later on, where he teaches 'In the morning one re-cites two blessings before it and one after it, and in the evening he recites two blessings before it and two after it' (Misnah 1.4), let him teach about the evening first!"
The Tanna began with the evening and then returned to teach about the morning [in 1.2]; as long as he was treating of the morning he explained matters pertaining to the morning, and then he turned back and explained matters pertaining to the evening.
"The Master said, 'From the time the priests come in to eat of their Heave-offering.' Now when do priests eat Heave-offering? From the time the stars come out. Let him teach 'From the time the stars come out'! [By proceeding as he does] he teaches us something extra by the way: Priests eat Heave-offering from the time the stars come out."
The Talmud: "Vilna" Page Layout
- 1 To draw up or frame (a proclamation, for example). 2 To prepare for publication; edit or revise ... this word does have other usages than for the deletions by intelligence agencies ...
The Koren Talmud, which includes a contemporary English translation.